One of the many problems that plague this time is the poverty of language when it comes to our politics. We remain stuck with the language of the past, even though the political and ideological structures of the past are no longer relevant. The use of antiquated language forces people to use those old mental structures, which in turn means jamming the present into the molds of the past. The most obvious example is Left and Right, which have lost any real meaning.
Is Ben Shapiro a conservative? He calls himself a conservative, but Steve Sailer calls himself a conservative too. While they may agree on many practical things, it should be clear that they have different motivations. Ben Shapiro’s conservatism is driven by a desire for what is good for his people, while Steve Sailer thinks his positions are good for the country of his birth. They get lumped in with many other people on the Right, but they clearly have different political goals.
Therein lies the main problem with the most basic of political labels. Steve Sailer and Ben Shapiro assume that the rules of morality are rational. If they are rational, then we can reason our way to the correct morality. If we can do that then there is no reason that everyone cannot do the same thing. This is also the position of people like Karl Marx and John Rawls. It is the view of the current Left. They think they have found the right moral system and you just need to realize it.
Right there is the central problem of this age. We hold onto terms like Left and Right but have forgotten why they exist. The Left used to be those who said that the rules of morality must be rational, because the natural world is rational. The Right said morality is based in Scripture and the will of God but shaped by tradition. Scripture does not cover everything, so history, tradition, and custom fill the gaps. Those items are central to understanding the central morality of Christianity.
This is the fundamental difference between Left and Right that has been lost, resulting in the incoherent use of the terms today. Both the modern Left and the modern Right assume that there is one universal moral code that is rooted in reason. Because morality is rational, it applies to everyone, just as the rules of math apply to everyone, so it means it is the duty of those who know to educate those who do not know in the same way we spread other knowledge.
This is what Paul Gottfried and others have been trying, unsuccessfully, to explain to Michael Anton over the last year. His “natural rights” argument must lead to that which he claims to reject, because it relies on the same assumptions and logic as that used by left-wing radicals for centuries. Once you assume morality is based in reason, you must assume there is one universal morality. The next steps from there do not matter as they all lead to the same place, death camps.
Of course, this must lead to the end of tradition. If morality is based in reason, then it means past practice is a form of trial and error, mostly error. The way we used to understand morality, say basing it in local custom, must be wrong because reason has brought us to a new and better understanding of morality. Tradition, history and custom, if they have any value at all, are a warning. Those who cling to antiquated moral claims based in tradition are rejecting reason.
This explains another bit of incoherent vocabulary. The people celebrating diversity are the least tolerant of diversity. The reason for that is diversity for them is a narrow tool, a wedge to be used to separate people from their history, traditions, and customs so that they can more easily be herded into the new moral framework. Diversity is a means to an end, not an end in itself, even if they claim otherwise, because there can be no diversity within a settled moral order.
The biggest problem that arises from universal morality based in reason is that it must come with a duty to impose that morality on others. This is the central insight of Nietzsche, who argued that once you conclude that morality is rational, you must accept it is universal and therefore binding on everyone. This divides the world into moral and immoral actors, where the moral actors are judged not on their individual compliance with moral reason but their willingness to enforce it.
If reason tells us that everyone can and must have the same morality, then there is no room for things like national borders. Borders are about dividing people based on how they think they ought to live. People over there live the way they do because they think that is how they ought to live, while the people over here live as we do because it is how we ought to live. The border dividing the two people is to preserve these moral differences, which flies in the face of reasoned morality.
Similarly, free association is about separating people, which rests on the assumption that people may be different not just in their superficial characteristics but in how they think they ought to live. The men’s club exists because men do not think like women and therefore must have a different moral outlook. Logically, it means they must have different roles in determining how we ought to live. If the moral questions have been settled, then this form of association is unacceptable.
What all this leads to is a way of sorting people in the modern age. If you are sure morality is based in reason, then you are in one camp, along with Locke, Rousseau, Karl Marx, and John Rawls. If you think morality lies outside the domain of reason and is instead based in the supernatural or tradition, then you are in another camp along with people like de Maistre, Burke and even many of the Framers. One camp is on the Left and the other is the Right.
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